|Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, and Santiago
photos by Lois and Don Porter
At 6 AM Saturday, January 18, we were outside waiting for our van to Panajachel. We arrived there in time to catch the 9:30 launch to Santiago de Atitlan on the other side of Lake Atitlan. The women of the town still weave and wear huipils with brilliantly colored flowers and birds embroidered on them as well as an impressive headwrap. The lake itself is very deep, very blue, very clean. It is a volcanic caldera 320 meters deep, with an area of 128 square Km. and is surrounded by three volcanoes with very little usable land around it. There are 10 small villages (Cakchiquel and Tz’utuhil) tucked into the crevices of the mountains. We got to Santiago around 10:30 and headed to see Maximon, an indigenous God who is revered with tobacco and alcohol. He changes location every year, so we paid a 10 year old boy 10 Quetzales ($1.33) to lead us there. There was a healing going on, which was lucky for us. We were allowed to take a photo apiece for an additional 20 Quetzales. Tz’utuhil mythology considers the site of the church sacred, the “navel of the world”. We checked out the church with its carvings of Santiago (St. James) and friends, wandered around the crafts market, and took the launch back at 12:30 PM. After eating, we checked into our very nice hotel (Utz Jay) and relaxed for awhile. Then we explored Panajachel, which is nicknamed “gringotenango” because so many foreigners are there.
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